David Dillard, a retired Bibb County school principal who worked three decades in the school system, died Thursday morning at Coliseum Medical Centers in Macon. He was 56.
Former students, colleagues and friends will gather from 7-8 p.m. Sunday at Bloomfield Middle School, 4375 Bloomfield Drive Extension, for a memorial service. A traditional funeral service is planned for Monday.
Dillard died of an undisclosed illness at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday, said Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones.
“It was due to a sudden illness that happened quickly,” said Dillard’s only daughter, Estee Nema Dillard. “He served many children here ... and always felt the need to give children the opportunity he wasn’t necessarily afforded.”
David Dillard graduated from Macon’s Peter G. Appling High School in 1972.
He was raised by a single mother in a low income home with 11 siblings and joined the Navy to pay for his college education, his daughter said.
He received his bachelor’s degree in education from Georgia College, which is now Georgia College & State University, and received a master’s in education from Tuskegee University in Alabama. He also worked on his specialist degree in education at Clark Atlanta University.
He chose to return to Macon to be an educator and was a 31-year veteran of the school system.
“He wanted to empower (students) to get an education, the one thing no one can take away,” his daughter said.
Dillard served as principal at Bloomfield Middle School from 2006 when the new school opened on Rocky Creek Road until retiring July 1.
He adopted the phrase “Field of Dreams” as the school’s motto.
Previously, he was a principal at Barden Elementary School where he was known for rewarding his students with ice cream and prizes for performing well on state exams.
He also was a former assistant principal at Miller Middle School and taught at other schools such as Riley Elementary and Hunt Magnet School.
“He was very neat and organized and had high expectations,” said Tom Hudson, Bibb County school board president and a fraternity member of Dillard. “It caught me by surprise that he had passed. He’ll be missed by the Bibb County school system and board of education.”
Dillard was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and a deacon at Mount Moriah Baptist Church.
“God, his job and his family were pretty much his life,” Estee Nema Dillard said. “I know he would want (the children he taught) to celebrate his life.”
Funeral services tentatively will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Beulahland Bible Church, 1010 Newberg Ave., in Macon. Jones Brothers Mortuary is handling the services.
In lieu of flowers the family asks for contributions to the David L. Dillard Scholarship Fund for college scholarships.
To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.